09Thanks to the last minute special without single supplement, I was able to visit this village for the first time. I thought I had a deal, but I foud out some GMs received a better rate by e-mail. Spirit connects via Ft Lauderdale on Saturdays ( airbus 319) with a flight time of 65 min. The San Salvador airport is quite simple, and efficient. CM time is one hous ahead of the island time and the EST. CM charter from Paris arrives on Wednesday, and from Montreal on Friday. There is only one flight to Nassau, everday of the week. Airport is within walking distance from the village.
I had reserved for the basic room, but I was given an ocean front room, at a high category. The room was very nice ( the only the equivalent I had seen was in Crested Butte), it had a refrigerator, a king size bed, a CD player/radio/alarm clock, a couch, an arm chair, and two safe deposit boxes. I had a private balcony with two chairs and a coffee table. I could not find any radio station. I did not want to watch TV. I wish I had some CDs. I used the telephone to enter wake-up calls, it worked perfectly. Bottled water was free in the room. My silver member gift was a Bahamas made aromatic candle. I was personally recognized on the welcome card in the room.There were plenty of repeat visitors to CM, and to this village as well. These, I believe, represent the core customer base, which CM should not ignore (sometimes it does). The food was very good, there were may chef specials every lunch and dinner. There were two specialty restaurants ( one for seafood, and the other, rodizio dinner) but they were open few days a week. I ate once at the seafood restaurant, and the reservation line at 10 AM was long. Village has capacity of 500 guests, at that time guest # was 280-290. Bar liquor quality was quite good. One outside bar had martini theme at two different nights. The white night and the dinner around the pool was on Tuesday(due to Paris charter leaving on Wednesday). The CDV, Karim Dos santos, gave a reception to US originating GMs on Monday. He was visible in the village, although he never moderated a cray sign ( first time I had seen this happenning in CM). In fact there was a determination not do do crazy signes more than two, sometimes only one, at noon and after the show. The shows were mediocre, with multiple repeats ( a disadvantage of going to CM frequently). The bar generally closed at 1 AM, with very few exceptions, and one day at midnight. The village crowd was not very playful, but people would participate the games. I believe the corporate suppression of animation and night life persists in full swing, and sport GOs are not good animators. I cannot blame on the GMs, people tried to enjoy the night if the music was good. The CM had dedicated animation team for decades,; now we do not have it ( watch the 'New CM'), and I feel the difference. The GOs were shy from instigating parties. I did not have any difficulty interacting with the GOs, but I am a veteran GM. The first time visitors would have felt different. The village, the sky, the stars and the ocean were pretty at night; unfortumately few people witnessed it.
SCUBA was strong, the morning boat left at 8:15 AM. A GM who dived for six days received a free night dive ( I did not dive, although I had CM certification before receing my PADI certification). Emphasis was given on fitness and tennis. We did Zumba twice a day ( 40 min), and cardio kickbox in the morning (20 min, since the GO had to go to aqua gym) at the patio in front of the beach bar. Sport medals were give on Tuesday, and I won a fitness medal (again). 9 AM Power walk was well attended by the GMs. It is an opportunity to see outside the village, to meet other people and a new GO). Cockburn Town is approximately 40-45 min walk from the village square. I visited the presumed Columbus landing site, the locals gave me partial lift in both directions. I believe the island is safe, few inhabitants, plenty of churches. A history museum in the town is work in progress.
CM occupies a large piece of land, at it is the dominant resort in the island. I was opened in 1991. The original designer was inspired by the Asian cultures. There are plenty of decorations in the village. A GO, who had been there for a long time, conducted a cultural tour of the village on Sunday. There were some GOs whom I had met in Turkoise and Sandpiper in 2009. There were also few new GOs, who had never beeen to CM before. I noticed few GEs at the bar, in process of learning. CM glitches were fewer than the other villages.
I received the following day's program in my room everyday except one, an opportunity to plan the next day and prepare for the dress code. The dress codes were: Jan 30 Saturday -elegant; Jan 31 Sunday- pink&white, Feb 1 monday- jeans&white top, Feb 2 Tuesday-white, Feb3 Wednesday-black, Feb 4 Thursday- elegant, Feb 5 Friday- elegant ( I was not prepared for 3 elegant nights in a week, a first in my 34 different CM trips. I ran out of elegant clothes. GOs wore black. Is this part of the 'upscale' trend?). The internet was free, and there were three terminals (sometimes they were slow). The village was generally in good shape.The GOs did not appear to be unhappy. The beach, I think, was more beautiful than Turkoise, however the sandflies were as active. The island is like Turkoise 25 years ago, one can be in a beach all alone. On the day of departure, one could reserve a room for 30 min to change and to take a shower, for free. Ther return flight to Ft Lauderdale was efficient. The airplane check in and luggage search were done in the village. Due to the snow storm in th East Coast, some GMs were offered to stay at Sandpiper ( due to superbowl, the hotels at Ft Lauderdale were full). I saw a CM rep at the airport beyond customs helping GMs, a nice coordination.
This is a good facility for sports, great food, very good beach. Water ski is available during the summer. There were very few children. If you think bar closing early is a problem, bring you favorite from the Ft Lauderdale duty free, and your boombox. Considering the cost and the time spent accessing the village, the quality of food and the infrastructure, I think North American GMs should consider Columbus Isle over Turkoise.